BARRING unforeseen last-minute political lapses the two chambers of the National Assembly, NASS – the Senate and the House of Representatives – will reconvene soon to attend to emergency issues of high national interest. Last week, President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, had already made moves for the leadership of the two chambers to meet but the siege to the Assembly Complex by the Directorate of State Services, DSS, disrupted it.
Shortly after July 24, 2018 when the NASS adjourned for its two-month annual recess, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote a letter urging the Federal lawmakers to reconvene to consider his requests for funds for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. The Senate is also expected to confirm key appointments into the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Unfortunately, politics threatens to stand in the way of efforts to recall the legislators back from recess in the interest of the nation which they have given positive response to. While the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, is flexing muscles, mandating its lawmakers in the Senate to impeach Saraki, some elements in the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, also want to seize the opportunity to either replace its ex-Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio who resigned and defected to the APC, or actually snatch the position of Senate Leader from APC’s Ahmed Lawan in the belief that they now have the majority after 14 APC senators defected to join them.
We want to call on the Federal lawmakers to see the call for it to reconvene as a challenge to their sense of patriotism. The need for funds for the conduct of the 2019 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and other relevant partners in that project is a call to protect our democracy. Without timely appropriation of funds, the INEC cannot perform magic. We would run into dire constitutional crises and the legitimate electoral aspirations of the various political parties and their candidates will be threatened.
We therefore call on all members of the National Assembly to focus strictly on the core agenda of national interest – funds for the elections and possible confirmation of the President’s nominees. Any attempt to bring in the issue of struggle for control of the leadership of the National Assembly will only precipitate needless political stalemate.
The issue of leadership change, if absolutely necessary, should be shelved until the NASS resumes in September. Even at that, it must be carried out strictly in accordance to constitutional injunctions. No act of impunity will be acceptable.